Good reason to celebrate | Editorial

Oak Harbor’s makeover of its old downtown on Pioneer Way has had more than its share of controversy, but today is for celebration, not reopening old wounds.

The street looks beautiful with its new asphalt and broad, welcoming sidewalks. Sure, there was controversy, but no one can argue with the aesthetics of the final product -- it looks terrific.

There’s even controversy over the choice of today for the ribbon cutting, because the project is not quite finished. The discovery of Native American remains resulted in added costs and one unfinished section, but long-suffering business owners wanted the grand opening as soon as possible. And they deserve every consideration possible: They lost an entire spring and summer of business as usual, with customers sometimes having to walk on dirt and jump puddles to reach the threshold. The fact is that the project is substantially complete, traffic is flowing and shoppers are enjoying the surprising new ambiance of this old Navy town.

One of the best improvments is yet to come -- removal of the ugly utility wires that plague almost every other town, including Coupeville and Langley. The mayor and city council were bold in their determination to put the power lines underground and found the money to get the job done in tough times.

Stop by, enjoy the sights and tastes of downtown Oak Harbor, and imagine what the future will bring. If there was ever a good reason to celebrate in Oak Harbor, this is indeed the time.

All of Whidbey Island is welcome to today’s grand opening of Pioneer Way. There will be running and walking events this morning, along with sidewalk chalk art and a ribbon cutting ceremony at noon at the intersection with Dock Street.

Particularly welcome is the participation of the Swinish Indian Tribal Community which will provide a salmon barbecue starting at noon and traditional tribal dancing. The fact that they’re helping with the grand opening shows that once the bones were uncovered, the city worked hard and successfully in building good relations with the people who lived on Whidbey Island thousands of years before Europeans arrived.

Stop by, enjoy the sights and tastes of downtown, and imagine what the future will bring. If there was ever a good reason to celebrate in Oak Harbor, this is it.


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